Impeachment trial: What is the proposed schedule? How will the trial be conducted?

Proposal for how the impeachment trial will be conducted

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s plan for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump calls for a ramped-up schedule that will see the presentation of the case by House managers and the defense of the president by his legal team going into the wee hours of the morning.

McConnell’s motion for the schedule of the impeachment trial was released Monday, in advance of the start of the trial on Tuesday.

In it, McConnell proposes that both House managers and Trump’s lawyers will have up to 24 hours to present their opening arguments. The 24 hours will be confined to two working days, according to a copy of the proposed resolution.

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The opening arguments are set to begin Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET.

McConnell will introduce the motion Tuesday after the Senate reconvenes at 1 p.m.

In addition to setting out the parameters for opening arguments, the proposed motion none of the testimony collected by the House impeachment inquiry will be automatically admitted for use in the trial.

The Senate, instead, will vote later on whether to admit it into the record. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, decried McConnell’s proposed schedule, saying it was an effort to “conceal the President’s misconduct in the dark of night.”

"It's clear Sen. McConnell is hell-bent on making it much more difficult to get witnesses and documents and intent on rushing the trial through," Schumer said in a statement. "On something as important as impeachment, Senator McConnell's resolution is nothing short of a national disgrace."

The proposed motion lays out the structure for the trial, but there is no mention of allowing a motion to dismiss the case outright. However, motions can be introduced following a question period next week.

Here is what will happen Tuesday:

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts will gavel the trial to order

Senate Chaplain Barry Black will offer a prayer

Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger will read the impeachment proclamation

McConnell is then expected to make a motion to take up his resolution that lays out the schedule for the first part of the trial.

Here is what that motion says:

  • The motion released Monday night calls for 24 hours of opening arguments to be made by the House managers over a two-day period. With opening arguments beginning Wednesday at 1 p.m., that means the prosecution’s arguments will go until at least 1 a.m. Thursday, then pick up again at 1 p.m. Thursday and continue until 1 a.m. Friday.
  • Likewise, Trump’s defense team will have 24 hours to rebut the House case beginning at 1 p.m. Friday. Their time will run until 1 a.m. Saturday. They will begin again at 1 p.m. Saturday and will have until 1 a.m. Sunday to complete opening arguments.
  • Senators will take Sunday off.
  • On Monday and Tuesday, the question and answer period will begin. Senators will have up to 16 hours over the two days to question – via written submissions to Roberts – the House managers and Trump’s defense team.
  • On Wednesday, a motion will likely be introduced to allow for a vote on whether witnesses may be called to the Senate to testify in the trial. Four hours have been carved out to debate whether each side may opt to call witnesses. The vote is a straight majority vote, meaning 51 votes are needed for the motion to pass.
  • If the motion passes, then both sides may make motions to subpoena witnesses. However, before a person can testify at the trial, they must be deposed. After both sides depose the witness, then the Senate will decide on a majority vote as to whether that person may testify.
  • The resolution will also say that any evidence not in the House record at the time of the Dec. 18 House impeachment vote will not be considered during the Senate trial.

Here is the day-by-day trial schedule to be proposed by McConnell:

  • Tuesday: After the Senate convenes at 1 p.m., McConnell’s rules motion will be voted on.
  • Wednesday and Thursday: Prosecution arguments – 12 hours each day.
  • Friday and Saturday: Defense arguments – 12 hours each day.
  • Sunday: Day off.
  • Monday, Jan. 27, and Tuesday, Jan. 28: Questioning period from senators.
  • Wednesday, Jan. 29: Possible vote on witnesses.